Something my oldest sister said during Easter dinner surfaced in my mind today.  I said something about living in the Berkeley Hills with Roy, and said to the boys (the nephews), "I don't know if you remember Roy or not .." -- she piped in immediately, "*I* remember him.  He decimated my jazz collection." 

WTF? First, I'm certain that he did not. She has a history of false accusations that I don't feel like getting into, but I know he would never do that. 

SERIOUSLY.  We cannot get through one single event without her being some sort of a bitch.  EVER. 

Oh my lovely family.
It's amazing how hard it is raining. There was a lull between 4 and 11 PM HOORAY since I had to be out and about. Not much soil drying-out time, but it helps a little.

I studied ALL DAY for the meteorology test. (I am not an all day studier, though I suppose I could be.) A month ago, I arranged to take the test early so I could attend a lecture by Michael Pollan. I left two messages for the prof to confirm, morning and early afternoon, and arrived 20 minutes early to check in with him and have a last quick review before the test. He hadn't listened to his voice mail or prepared the test yet! By the time he got to the classroom with the test, there wasn't enough time to take it before I had to leave.  I'm taking it after the Tues. afternoon class now. So... more time to study! Yay?

Good lecture by M. Pollan. I wonder if he scheduled being here to coincide with the 5th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival in Sonoma County this weekend. (The College of Marin offers an A.S. in artisan cheese making now!)  I blew it on getting Friday farm tour tickets, but am going to the marketplace event Sunday. Also: events at the Center wow me. It was built by Frank Lloyd Wright, is so beautiful, and the acoustics are amazing. Knowing how lucky I am to live here rushes through me, always.

Mom is hanging in there, but the importance of routines was emphasized by how whacked out she got skipping her dinner tray last Friday. I thought it was a bad idea, and called several diff times of the day to ask if she was sure about it, and she said yes every time. But I should have overridden her. She got up at midnight, dressed, and walked down the hill to the dining hall (which was locked) for breakfast. Twice. In the rain. To her credit, she did not fall, got extra exercise, and called me after her second trip. (She should have used her "help button" device, but, no harm done.) Poor Mom, she was hungry, and confused about what time it was! I have restocked her tiny cupboard. We have to update her Power of Atty. anyway for a financial thing and are restating/updating her trust. I called the atty. to suggest he take this off the back burner. 

I have a new haircut. It's a real haircut, like, styled haircut. I like it, although it's hard to see the bigger Splat blue streak because of the way the hair falls on one side.

I've found two camping events and one backpacking trip that I want to go on. Have to figure out house/cat sitting.

What else. Oh! I was at my former workplace Mon. for the 30-year award they forgot to give me last year. The timing was good to reconnect with people. So, I heard on Wed. that one of the two people hired to fill my position was fired and escorted from the premises. This is not a place where people are escorted from the premises! Or wasn't. SHOCKING. Schadenfreude! I am SO GLAD I retired. Speaking of which, the pension increase (which add'l multiplier I paid for with my own money) is finally going into effect. It's been pending since last June! I'll get a nice retroactive check to bring me current. YAY.
Delayed, but oh well. I'm in the mood for a meme. The location thing: 

March 1971: Living with my parents here:  It's zoned too tightly to have changed muchl. The trees are bigger and the cars look different is all.  I was in my sophomore year of high school.

March 1981: Got a whole lot of living done in those ten years. By 1981, LA and everything there was behind me, and I had started a new life in Berkeley. I was 8 months into the job that I would hold for thirty years. I was either living in the Berkeley Hills with Roy, or had broken up with him and moved to the little treehouse apartment on the upper floor of a huge old farmhouse in North Berkeley.

March 1991: Still at the same job. Henry and I had been living together for seven years, and bought this house in San Rafael, and a house in Eugene, Oregon.

March 2001: Still at the same job. Henry and I were no longer a couple, nor was I with Peter.  In the settlement with Henry, I kept the San Rafael house, he got my share of the Eugene house, plus a whole lot of cash from me.

March 2011: Been retired for eight months, after early-retiring from the job (age wise) after 30 years, 1 month, and 9 days of working there. Same San Rafael house.

Dear Sister,
Your parking ticket was issued at 2:02 PM on Nov. 13.  My airplane was scheduled to touch down at SFO at 9:00 PM on Nov. 13. The earliest I could have gotten back into town is 10: 30 PM on Nov. 13.  I assure you, I was in Hawaii when you got the parking ticket.  I did not "make you" get the ticket.  I am not that powerful, trust me.
Really.  Me.
It's after 5 PM in middle America. Close enough. I had a glass of wine with my sister whine about the admin hearing and hooo boy, I am not a regular drinker! Still, the buzz feels nice. Yee Ha! 
Dear Sister,
Today was the administrative appeal to the parking ticket you got while I was on vacation in Hawaii in November. I dressed up in conservative and nice mufti, was 20 minutes early to my court date (he heard me right away, which was nice), and gave my best pitch on why you were parked in the cross-hatched area next to a handicapped parking spot, complete with a copy of our mother's ID showing that it was a few days before her 95th birthday and her disabled placard. I tried my best and thought we might have a shot, but the hearing officer said his hands were tied;  you violated federal ADA law by parking in the cross-hatched area, and would have gotten a legitimate and legal ticket even if Mom was in the car with you and her placard was hanging from the rear view mirror. I tried. I had to pay the ticket in order to get the appeal date. The ticket was $275.00.
Your sister, LT

What I did not say: 
Dear Sister,
Seriously? Do you really not get that you can't violate the law without paying consequences? This is the second time in three years that you have violated federal law and paid for it - or rather, I've paid for it, and you have to pay me back.
Your sister.

I wonder what exactly is wrong with her? Maybe I've been watching too much Criminal Minds lately, but I wonder if there is some screw loose that makes her think that she is so special, she isn't subject to anything normal people are. One of our family members is bi-polar and schizophrenic, and in the middle of a breakdown, was convinced he was too special to have to eat or sleep normally.  I wonder if she's got some spectrum of that going on. 

No matter what, it's both annoying that she got the ticket, and disappointing that my argument didn't work. But -- I'm kind of glad that the law was upheld, at the same time.

LA Stories

Feb. 15th, 2011 10:44 am
Tahnehisi Coates wrote about Kentucky Fried Chicken. When I was starting to work my way out of the world of Scn., I worked for a big important law firm in downtown LA. One of their clients was KFC, and one of the biggests cases they were working on was a trade secret infringement lawsuit about the KFC secret recipe. I am here to say, that recipe was really secret.

The sister

Feb. 15th, 2011 10:29 am
Dear Sister,
Thank you for your Valentine's Day ecard.

I don't know why you think that your sending me an ecard would make me too stupid with filial love to notice your sentence about negotiating to rent my friend's Stinson Beach cottage for the month of October for $1,400. I don't know why you think that I might have forgotten that you owe me tens of thousands of dollars, and that you periodically inform me that you might not be able to pay me this summer because you will be broke.  And no, renting a cottage on Stinson Beach isn't "just like college!"

Ah sigh, there's the sister I know:  a looonnnnnnggggg recriminatory reply email filled with accusations back to me.

Dear Sister,

Let us be clear about this:  Your crying, screaming tantrum in my car about a year and a half ago did indeed result in my agreeing that it would be adequate for you to pay me $500 a month towards the debt.  Under no circumstances should you interpret that acquiescence as a mandate to pay me no more than $500/month. In fact, the full amount is due and payable every day as far as I'm concerned. 

Your sister.
I hardly drink any alcohol any more, but I need a beer.
Beer had. I might need another one.
Good day in that I signed all the paperwork on my mortgage refi and it's OFFICIAL, yeah baby.

Friday, Mom and I are meeting with an attorney to talk about updating the power of attorney (one of her accounts wants it) and maybe updating her will.  It made us both very very cranky today.

I need that other beer.

I am BANANAS for this show called Criminal Minds.  My bike riding partner told me about it. Ion TV runs marathons that are so great. I wish I could find it all the time. Ima go look for it now. I love the main characters, and the readings that they end each ep with.

Ugh, I have a test on Thursday and some homework to do. Tomorrow.
School started.  I have to settle on classes. For sure I'm taking a nutrition class, if I get an add code.  The main contenders are meteorology vs. physical geography + lab or both or all and a geology field trip over spring  break. I hear there's a good non-mathy chem class +  lab.  I've looked at astronomy, geology, and human sexuality classes also.

I didn't get into this at all in Dec. and Jan., kind of a mistake, yet I am having fun in my own round-about way. 

It's the same prof for meteorology and geography. He's kind of nutty. Only in Marin? Only in California? Maybe.  He's 78, has 3 BSs, 2 MSs, and says he's the only ex-convict teaching in the State of Calif. Sounded like a Vietnam-era thing. He lives off the grid somewhere around Mendocino, has no Internet at his house, hearing loss in both ears from motorcycles and rock concerts, and, thanks to someone in class being the ex-wife of a former colleague of his, we also know he hasn't had a drink for 15 years, and is married for the second time to a woman with a Greek name.   
His teaching style is non-linear at best. Thank god I already knew everything he was talking about, either from high school science AP classes, or last semester's bio/geo class. I don't think I could have sorted out what he was talking about otherwise.  There were three people in class who had never heard the equation E=MC2 before last night (can you believe that? wow! how is that even possible?) -- they were probably very lost.

I'll go to meteorology tomorrow to see if he's more organized than in geography. Both textbooks look good (yeah, I bought yet another textbook that I might return). The geography lab that I overlooked looks good too. Prof suggested that I take geo, geo lab, meteorology, AND the spring geo field trip (aka camping for credit), and I'm seriously considering it. But I'm not sure I want to work that hard! Conflict! I was pretty humbled by all the young people working 20-40 hours a week AND taking, like, 12-16 units, though.

Dear Sister,

Yes, I am taking care of your $275 parking ticket issued three days before you flew back to Mexico, because I believe that the ticket was unfairly issued. The first tier of contesting the ticket required me to do some legal writing, no problem. The second tier of contesting the ticket, asking for a hearing to appeal the ruling that the ticket was legitimate, required me to pay the ticket in full first.

I do not appreciate your hostile email replies to my inquiries about the circumstances.Your assertion that your good deeds are being punished because I asked you to please pick up the dry cleaning for our mother while I  WAS NOT ON THE MAINLAND BUT INSTEAD WAS IN HAWAII is bad enough.  The further assertion that  I am THE person responsible for payment of the ticket, because I asked you to pick up our  mother's dry cleaning, is an appalling FAIL at responsibility. Do I really need to point out that you are the one who chose to park your car in a disabled spot, however temporarily to await a regular spot opening up at an extremely busy location with high turnover? 

I remain continually boggled at your financial irresponsibility, and at your hostile accusatory emails.  No love, your sister
Philosophy Talk is recording some live shows at the Marsh in Berkeley early this year. FYI in case anyone else is interested.

I'm going to the George Lakoff one, but this one is what made me think some of the localistas might be interested in checking out the series: 

3:00pm - Who Dunnit? The Language of Responsibility with Lera Boroditsky. Who is responsible for the broken vase in the foyer? How harshly should criminals be punished for their crimes? Did Justin Timberlake mean to disrobe Janet Jackson during her infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ incident? Though you might think that these questions have simple answers, they just got a little more complicated. Cognitive scientists have recently discovered some surprising ways in which the language we use influences how we think about responsibility and agency.  Join John, Ken and noted psychologist Lera Boroditsky, as they take a probing look at cross-cultural variations in language of responsibility as they attempt to illustrate the way language shapes thought.

I didn't get the things done on the mortgage refi that I need to do. Instead, I read what Dalton Ross and Jeff Probst think about Fabio's win in Survivor Nicaragua. Here is an interesting bit under a comment in Dalton's recap: -- by Hutchy  dated Mon 12/20/10 2:35 PM.  Hutchy's unimpeachably-accurate-so-far source alleges that Sash violated the most basic rule in Survivor by offering Jane a bribe to help him win. Producers halted the entire Tribal Council meeting to resolve the issue when Jane told them what happened at the TC meeting, deleted the footage, then issued gag orders on everyone involved. SCANDAL. I  wonder if it's true. This Survivor was lame, one of the worst ever. Amazing Race was awesome though.

I'm glad that I retired in summer.  It would be kind of awful to make such a Big Change In Ones Life and be stuck in this rainy dreary blah.

Perception of time is weird. Breaking up with Henry; taking up with Peter, then breaking up with Peter after he wanted to get married and have a kid [I regret not doing this, dammit, which is probably why this is happening now, big family time, etc.]; then having Paul die after basically telling me I was nuts because I was convinced he had cancer (I was right, he was wrong) -- all happened over a period of about two years. It feels like it wasn't that long ago, but it was almost 20 years ago? Whoa.  I'm back to remembering things about Henry almost daily. It's exactly like the way thoughts come and go during meditation. The memories arise, I note them, then they move away.  We lived here for 11 years together, but so much time has gone by... this kind of daily remembering used to happen all the time, then went away after 10 years or so. It's baaack. But in a smaller way. It's always been interesting that Henry is who comes to mind, not Peter, not usually. A function of the setting, the house we bought together, I suppose.

I did write and mail thank you letters for early Christmas gifts, wrapped and mailed my Secret Santa presents, and wrote an op ed about a local issue that I spoke up about at the City Council meeting last night.  Now if I could just focus on the refi documents during the day, and stop falling asleep on the couch, then waking up in the wee hours and spending too much time on the Internets at night.
Dear brother,
We have spoken on the phone 5 or 6 times in the last month, starting as soon as I heard that you were planning to drive to SF from Penna. for our mother's 95th birthday. I pointedly, clearly, specifically asked you each time to let me know your exact plans, because I have been wanting to go away for the 2nd week of Nov. for 2  years. This year is especially provident for such a trip, since our sister is staying at my house until Nov. 16, and she could cat-and-housesit.  You waffled a little on dates, but last we talked, you said you'd be here Nov. 5.

On Nov. 2, I found out from my sister, who found out from our mother, that you are not coming to Calif. after all. THANKS FOR THE PHONE CALL, DUDE.

Dear sister,
I know Nov. in the Bay Area is cold compared to the surfing and fishing village you live in south of the Tropic of Cancer.  But I really do not appreciate coming home from an evening play to find you walking around in a nightgown with bare feet, your bedroom French door open, living room windows open, main thermostat cranked up to 74 F, and the heater in the bathroom running -- with the bathroom French door also open, It isn't that hard to close doors and windows when it gets cold outside, and to dress appropriately. That means socks and shoes or slippers.  Pants. Long sleeved shirts. Here's a thought: sweaters! Also, remember when you asserted at a cocktail party that you are an environmentalist, I laughed, and you were offended?  FYI, this behavior is not even remotely environmentally conscious.

Dear brother and sister,
Screw it, I found a deal.  I'M LEAVING FOR HAWAII ON SUNDAY!! 
Love,  your sister.
PS Dear sister, Try to not triple the elec and gas usage the week that I'm gone, okay? I give up on pointing out that it isn't, in fact, about the cost of it. 
I got an A on the first mid-term. Yay! We have a second mid-term next week.

I have had a porcelain sliver in my right index finger for months and it's so annoying, I want it out!  In the last two weeks, I've seen two hand surgeons; been scheduled for hand surgery, which surgeon #2 canceled without anyone calling my home phone to tell me or leave a message (there was a message on my cell, which was hinky for days -- I got the message 4 hours *after* going to two surgery centers and the hospital looking for the dang hand surgeon!); been back to see hand surgeon #1 after canceling-surgeon-#2 didn't return my phone call. Latest advice: don't do anything. It will eventually work its way out. The universe seems against surgery on this finger. I hope surgeon #1 is right.

Oh the drama over whether or not my brother is coming to the Bay Area from Penna. for his 62nd birthday and our mother's 95th birthday. Skipping a six para analysis of his comm. style here, I think his deep involvement with AA and its offshoots plays a large role in how poorly he listens, and why he tends to take any subject and shortly make it about him. AA culture is about listening and supporting, but what he could use IMHO is being challenged on falsehoods, assumptions, and non-sequitors.

I've discovered that an East Bay and SF bakery, Arizmendi, has opened a storefront downtown San Rafael. I almost wish I hadn't. The bread is soooooo gooood. Their sourdough starter, I have heard, originally came from their sister coop, the Cheese Board Collective in North Berkeley, which is one of the progenitors of the original Gourmet Ghetto, the other two being Chez Panisse and Pig By Tail.  That's my original Bay Area neighborhood, and wow did I miss the Cheese Board (and Berkeley Bowl) when I moved to Marin.
Sharon died a year ago today.

Ugh, property taxes are due on 11/1/10. At least I don't *actually* have to pay them until Dec. 10th.
Last week, or rather the week before, since last week's BIO/GEO class was forgotten while in the throes of The Hunger Games, I went to Cavallo Point to study. I headed there today, but discovered it was already 4 PM. Oops. Went back home to study, which was fine. My view is good enough even if I only see the Richmond Bridge at a distance instead of the North Tower of the GG Bridge rightthere.

Watched two eps of Hoarders, and spent some time weeding out and reorganizing books. I have more autographed books than I realized. I came up with 5 or 6 books to donate, which isn't much, but is something. Tomorrow: 5 more chapters for class, plus more weeding-out. The boxes from work have overwhelmed me into paralysis, which I shall overcome. Help in the form of my wonderful former roommate Mona is coming on Friday, too, YAY! 

I'm having hand surgery on Wed. It's so ridic --- to remove a porcelain stove sliver. Have to figure out driving logistics tomorrow. And that's my day, only with a mile of swimming sprints also.
I forgot to go to biology class last night. Der.  I took a break on the waterfront at Pt . Isabel in Richmond yesterday around 5 PM to read a chapter in The Hunger  Games, just to get started. Ha! An hour and a half later, the sun was making it impossible to read, so I headed home, and picked up a furnace filter on the way. My sister coated the house with dust by turning on the heat last weekend. That's not the way to do it! When I got home, I vacuumed the air vents, changed the filter, and ran it to blow out any left over dust.  By the time I remembered class, it had been going on for 2 hours. I could have run over the hill to catch the last hour of class, but did not. I went back to the book instead, and was up until 2 AM reading. Finished it this morning. 

The demand for Catching Fire is down, and I might have been able to get it via library reserve mid-Nov. but that's too long. Used copies of CF and Mockingjay are on their way to me. Yay! 

I was in the East Bay so Lisa, Linda, and I could lunch with S, who temped at MTC about 15 years ago, It took me A YEAR to arrange it. First, I had to find S's email address. S had to go to Locke to get a craft item from her friend for me. Finding a date was ridic. Then it took an extra hour to get together, because Linda didn't follow directions, went to the wrong place, her car died, and she turned off her cell phone after making a few "help!" calls.  @@. I found her, pushed her car out of the middle of the road with the help of two Samaritans, and took her back after lunch so she could pbone for a tow. At least the 3 of us are retired, and S is a consultant who sets her own hours. But, it was fun, and finally, I will be able to mail a thank you present to someone for something that happened LAST YEAR.  

The College of Marin pool is gross. I've gotten a cold, an ear infection, and now a skin infection from the water. Damn. It's a lovely pool except not entirely clean.  I'll be writing a letter about that.  We did swim sprints today. Wow, was it tiring, and wow, I am so much stronger a swimmer than I was a few months ago.  Umm, swimming. I love being in water!
  • The midterm is over; I think I did okay. Will find out next week.
  • It's really hot. Oh how I miss the fog. 
  • There are built-in cat doors at the bottom of the bedroom doors. Around 5:30 AM, the trim around one of them popped off and skidded across my bedroom floor. I got up and watered plants outside in the semi-dark then watched the sun rise from my picture window - maybe the 7th or 8th that I've been up for in 26 years at this house. It was lovely.
  • I caught, "It's Kind Of A Funny Story" tonight, and really liked it. IMHO it normalizes so much of what is feared and misunderstood about mental illnesses. It's good, it's sweet, it's funny, it has good music, and I think it's a really important movie, esp. for teens.  Check it out.

Midterm in Bio/Geo99 tomorrow. It's a training wheels class, and I will be horrified if I don't get an A. I finally finished all the reading today (the text is B. Bryson's, A Short History of Nearly Everything, so, very readable) while sitting at this marvelous luxury resort at the former Ft. Baker, which is close to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin side.  Katerinabead and I met at Rodeo Beach two weeks ago, then when the fog rolled in thick, trotted to Cavallo Point for another hour or so. I thought at the time that it would make an excellent weekday study hall spot and I was right!  

I'm so thrilled to be (a) retired, and (b) living in Marin County.

I would be doing some practice equations if only I could log onto the damn College of Marin website. Will have to wait until tomorrow morning to get everything reset.

I was pretty surprised at how wrong I was re the location of Forest Hills PA to Bradfordhills PA. I wonder if other kids who left the place where they grew up not too long after learning how to drive also have a bad mental geographic map of their home area. I recognize the towns closer to Pittsburgh because the few competitive sports teams Ligonier had played against them, but I've never been to most of them. We went to Greensburg and Monroeville for the malls, the top of Laurel Mt. and Seven Springs and Hidden Valley to ski, and into Pittsburgh to visit the sister at Carnegie Tech, go to plays or musicals that the community concert series in Greensburg didn't have (side note: Marin has a concert/event series that is SO like the thing I grew up with), and on family vacations that were a lot farther away -- Florida to see the grandparents nearly every Easter and Thanksgiving, Maine, Virginia Beach, Deep Creek Lake, uh.. others.